Universiteit Leiden

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Analogy, Technical Reason, and Living Beings: The Role of Analogy in Representing Kant's Concept of Naturzweck

This dissertation concerns the role of analogy in Kant’s “Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment”, especially the role of analogy for the formation of the concept of a natural end (Naturzweck). A ‘natural end’ is a ‘regulative concept’ of the reflective power of judgment, that is, a heuristic device that enables us to make sense of the seemingly end-directed and self-organizing character of living beings. Kant’s description of the concept of Naturzweck appeals to the analogy with our “causality in accordance with ends”. However, he is not clear at all what “causality in accordance with ends” means in this context. The philosophical literature on Kant has typically—and predominantly—conflated this analogy with the traditional analogy from design. On this reading, Kant is drawing an analogy between artifacts and living beings. My proposal is that the best way to construe this analogy is not by identifying it with the old argument from design, but rather with our own reason in its “technical use”. That is to say, the analogy with our causality in accordance with ends does not establish a relation of identity between organisms and artifacts, but between organisms and technical reason itself.

M. Constanza Terra
22 May 2019

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